May 12, 2006

Minutes of the Rice University Plenary Faculty Meeting

Friday, May 12, 2006, 10 am

McMurtry Auditorium, Duncan Hall


I. Presentation and Approval of Undergraduate Degree Candidates

II. Presentation and Approval of Undergraduate Honors

III. Presentation and Approval of Candidates for Advanced Degrees

IV. Year-End Summary of Faculty Senate Activities

V. Faculty Awards

VI. Recognition of Retiring Faculty Members

VII. Announcements

A verbatim recording of the proceedings is available by contacting the Faculty Senate at 713-348-5630.

Attendance: approximately 80

President David Leebron called to order the Plenary Faculty Meeting at 10 am.

I. Presentation and Approval of Undergraduate Degree Candidates

Deborah Nelson-Campbell, Chair of the Committee on Examinations and Standing (EX&S), presented the list of 728 candidates recommended to receive undergraduate degrees. Each year, EX&S receives petitions from students who wish to be granted exceptions from university academic regulations. This year the committee turned down six such requests; however, EX&S recommends to the faculty approval of four exception requests based on errors made by the Office of the Registrar. David Tenney, Registrar, reported that processes have been put in place to catch similar errors from this point forward. The four exceptions were approved unanimously.

The Committee on Examinations and Standing moved to approve the list of candidates, including the four approved exceptions, for graduation. The candidates for undergraduate degrees were approved unanimously.

II. Presentation and Approval of Undergraduate Honors

Tenney added one late entry to the list of magna cum laude recipients before Nelson-Campbell presented the list of 223 candidates for university honors (47 summa cum laude, 65 magna cum laude, 111 cum laude). The candidates for undergraduate honors were approved unanimously.

III. Presentation and Approval of Candidates for Advanced Degrees

James Faubion, Chair of the Graduate Council, presented the list of 496 candidates recommended to receive advanced degrees. Faubion noted that there were no requests for exceptions.

The Graduate Council moved to approve the list of candidates for graduation. The candidates for advanced degrees were approved unanimously.

IV. Year-End Summary of Faculty Senate Activities

Marj Corcoran, Speaker of the Faculty Senate, provided a summary of the Senate’s activities. During its first year, the Faculty Senate:

  • met a total of nine times, and the President and the Provost were present at every meeting;
  • approved a Constitution (9/21/05), Bylaws (12/7/05), and Meeting Rules (4/12/06);
  • created a Working Group, chaired by Duane Windsor, to review university-sponsored events during the last week of classes, the reading period, and the final examination period. The Working Group recommended and the Senate passed strengthened wording and an extension of the existing policy (3/22/06). For the first time, there will be restrictions on events during the last week of classes and there is strengthened wording of the restrictions on events during the reading period and the final examination period.
  • received a report from the Office of Admission on athletics admission (11/9/05) and reconstituted the three-member faculty committee that oversaw athletics admission as a subcommittee of the Committee on Admission and Student Financial Aid;
  • created a Working Group, chaired by Dave Schneider, to review the university committee structure. While work is still in progress, the Working Group recommended removing committees that have been inactive (3/22/06) and will be reviewing the charges of all committees during the summer months.
  • received a report on the Online Writing Examination (9/21/05) and encouraged continuation of the online exam for at least one more year;
  • reviewed a proposal from the Provost and Dean of Undergraduates regarding final examinations (12/7/05) and a revised version from a Working Group chaired by Marj Corcoran (3/22/06), approving the elimination of self-scheduled exams, the addition of a third, overflow final examination period in the evening, and a change in due dates for take-home examinations and final projects. The due date for grades was pushed back by two days beginning in the fall in order to give more time to grade. Online grade entry will begin in the fall.
  • reviewed and approved a proposal for minors (4/12/06 and 5/10/06), setting up the framework to allow individuals or groups of individuals to bring forward a proposal for specific minors. Three different proposals were approved: interdisciplinary minors, which must come before the Senate; minors in a School, department, or center that does not offer an undergraduate major, which must come before the Senate; minors within a department that offers an undergraduate major, which do not need Senate approval.
  • held elections for the Promotion & Tenure Committee and the Faculty Senate;
  • nominated faculty for University Council;
  • received a report from the committee organizing the reaccreditation visit (4/12/06);
  • met the new football coach (5/10/06).

The Faculty Senate’s website is

Leebron believed that the Senate fulfilled a lot of the aspirations that were set out. Both he and the Provost look forward to continued use of the venue as a great way to make decisions and to communicate with faculty.

V. Faculty Awards

Leebron presented the following awards to outstanding faculty members:

George R. Brown Prize for Excellence in Teaching: Michael Emerson (Sociology)

George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching: John Hutchinson (Chemistry), Richard Baraniuk (Electrical & Computer Engineering), Richard Stoll (Political Science), James Brown (Economics), Alexander Byrd (History), Michael Gustin (Biochemistry & Cell Biology)

Charles W. Duncan Jr. Achievement Award for Outstanding Faculty: Carlos Jimenez (Architecture)

Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management Teaching Excellence Award: Leo Linbeck, III

Nicolas Salgo Distinguished Teaching Award: William L. Wilson (Electrical & Computer Engineering)

Julia Mile Chance Prize for Excellence in Teaching: Robert Roux (Music)

Presidential Award for Mentoring: John Boles (History), Kyriacos Athanasiou (Bioengineering)

Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize: Lisa Meffert (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology)

GSA Faculty Teaching / Mentoring Award: Jordan Konisky (Biochemistry & Cell Biology), Brett Ashley Leeds (Political Science)

Sarofim Teaching Award for Excellence: Jose Narbona (Center for the Study of Languages)

Outstanding College Faculty Associates: Joe Manca, Baker (Art History); Paul Stevenson, Brown (Physics & Astronomy); Jane Grande-Allen, Hanszen (Bioengineering); Richard Stoll, Jones (Political Science); Gerard Daniel Cohen, Lovett (History); Anthony and Michelle Chan, Martel (Physics & Astronomy); James Disch, Sid Richardson (Kinesiology); David Hellums, Wiess (Bioengineering); Lissa Heckelman, Will Rice (Education)


VI. Recognition of Retiring Faculty Members

In ascending order of length of service, Leebron acknowledged the academic year 2005 – 2006 retirees; each will receive a retiree’s chair.

Manik Talwani, Schlumberger Professor of Advanced Studies and Research in Earth Science – 21 years of service

Julie Taylor, Professor of Anthropology – 24 years of service

George Marcus, Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies (Anthropology) – 31 years of service

Margret Eifler, Professor of German and Slavic Studies – 33 years of service

William (Bill) L. Wilson, Jr., Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering – 34 years of service

Hans Ave Lallemant, Professor of Earth Science – 36 years of service

Ewa Thompson, Professor of German and Slavic Studies – 36 years of service

Constantine (Gus) Armeniades, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering – 37 years of service

Raymon Glantz, Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology – 37 years of service

Kristine Wallace, Lecturer and Professor of Classics – 37 years of service

VII. Announcements

Leebron announced the names of faculty who passed away during the 2005 – 2006 academic year: Herbert Beckman, Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science; Hyeokho Choi, Faculty Fellow in Electrical and Computer Engineering; Rafael Fliegel, Professor Emeritus in the Shepherd School of Music; and Rick Smalley, Professor of Chemistry.


Bill Wilson provided instructions for faculty line-up for commencement.


VIII. Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 10:45 am.